Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Two Men and a Car

Redvers Coat of Arms
William de Redvers, 5th Earl of Devon, died 10 September 1217; he was born sometime before 1146, (the year his mother died). His coat of arms was a lion rampant (facing left). At Richard Lionheart's coronation, four earls supported the canopy under which he walked in the procession. William was one of the canopy bearers. Prior to Richard's accession, William was loyal to King John.

Falkes de Breauté, with no particular aristocratic standing (he is rumored to have been illegitimate), died in 1226. His coat of arms was a griffin. He, too, had been loyal to King John. Falkes rose to prominence during the First Barons War when John faced a revolt from his barons. Falkes was prominent in many military engagements on behalf of John.

With their loyalty to King John (at a time when he needed men faithful to him), these two men probably crossed paths more than once. At least one of those times, however, was not in a good way.

William had a son, Baldwin, who would become the 6th Earl of Devon after William's death. Baldwin married Margaret Fitzgerald, the daughter of King John's chamberlain. Baldwin and Margaret had a son, also named Baldwin. Sadly, the elder Baldwin died on 1 September 1216.

Evolution of Vauxhall griffin
Falkes, with no title or fortune to his name, took it upon himself to improve his standing by kidnapping the widowed Margaret and forcing a marriage. William objected, but John approved, choosing to reward Falkes for exemplary service. Falkes received not only Margaret's dowry from her father, but also, when William died in 1217, the estates connected to the Devon title, since he was now regent for the younger Baldwin, who became the 6th Earl of Devon.

Part of Margaret's dowry was an area in London dominated by a manor which, because of her new husband, became known as Falkes' Hall. The name morphed through the years once the original reason for the name faded into history, first becoming "Foxhall" and later "Vauxhall." In 1857, a Scottish engineer founded a company in Vauxhall which later became the Vauxhall Iron Works and then, in 1907, the Vauxhall Motor Company. This company used, as its logo, the griffin of Falkes de Breauté.

So...if Falkes had not kidnapped William's daughter-in-law, the area in London known as Vauxhall would not have been given that name; moreover, whatever name it did get, the logo of an automobile company coated there might have been a lion rampant, which might have caused problems for the French Peugeot line of automobiles.

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